National Moth Week is celebrated every year during the last full week of July. We took part for the first time last week and were able to collect data in three distinct locations – two on the Oregon Coast and one in the North Sacramento Valley (outlined in the east by the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains and in the west by the Coastal Range). In Oregon, we took on the challenge as described by hanging a white sheet between two trees with rope and upon nightfall, illuminated the area with a lantern. In California, however, the moth came directly to us.
On our first night, much to our surprise, only one moth came to visit our sheet (image 1). This little moth was very flighty however, and I was not able to get a very clear picture. The kids eventually fell asleep so we removed the sheet and retired to our beds, vowing to try again the following day. The second night took place about 28 miles north. This time, not a single moth came to the sheet, however, we did observe one on the window screen of the house (image 2). Later that day, we went for a long walk with Grandma and her friend Richard at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. There, we observed several small Lepidoptera flitting about along the forest trail. Though we were never able to get close enough for photos or identification.
It was hard not to get discouraged but our experience provided us with much to ponder. Is it our battery operated light? Perhaps the energy efficient bulb? Should we have left the sheet up all night long and checked in the morning? Perhaps we should have smeared a fruit and stale beer concoction on the trees prior to dusk? We discussed these possibilities on our long drive home the next day.
Later that evening, as we were preparing for bed once again, Buddy exclaimed, “Mom! Come quick! There is a moth on my bedroom door!” Though we didn’t collect a lot of data, our enthusiasm has not waned and we look forward to trying it again in 2014. You can find a list of partners and how to submit your moth observations on the National Moth Week website, How to Submit Data.
Submitted to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival at Handbook of Nature Study.